By Aryeh Savir
Israel has been accepted as an observer state of the Pacific Alliance, a Latin American trade bloc. Israel’s accession was made possible as a result of efforts led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the leaders of its member states. It is the continuation of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy of developing new markets for the Israeli economy. In the coming months, the Prime Minister is due to visit Colombia and Mexico in order to promote cooperation with the Pacific Alliance.
The organization’s goals include free trade and economic integration among the member states, as well as a visa-free travel area, a common stock exchange, and common diplomatic representation. The combined Gross National Product (GNP) of the Pacific Alliance member states amounts to over $2 trillion and constitutes 36% of the GNP of Latin America. It is the eighth largest economy in the world, accounts for 50% of Latin America’s trade and 26% of its foreign investments, over $70 billion. Israel currently exports $864 million worth of goods to the Pacific Alliance countries per annum, approximately 1% of Israel’s total exports. In comparison, exports to India, the economy of which is smaller than that of the Pacific alliance countries, constituted approximately 3.4% of exports in 2013.
The decision to accept Israel as an observer state was made last night at a Pacific Alliance summit in Cartagena, Colombia with the participation of the member state presidents. With this decision Israel joins the US and Canada, among others, as an observer state. As an observer state, Israel will be invited to take part in the staff work of the Pacific alliance and attend its conferences, which will facilitate the advancement of cooperation with its member states.
Prior to the decision, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, who confirmed their support for Israel’s accession. Prime Minister Netanyahu met last month in Davos with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who acceded to the former’s request that Israel be accepted as an observer state.
The Government’s effort to enhance economic ties is being led by the Prime Minister’s Office Director General Harel Locker and his deputy, Yossi Catribas, in conjunction with the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Economy, Tourism, Agriculture and Rural Development, Science and Finance.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “I thank the leaders of the Pacific Alliance member states for accepting Israel as an observer to the important organization that they head. This is an additional step in ensuring the continued growth of the Israeli economy. We are diversifying the State of Israel’s international markets.”
Efforts are currently underway to organize a visit to Latin America by Prime Minister Netanyahu in April, with travel to Mexico and Colombia aimed at further bolstering economic and political ties with pro-American countries.
Tazpit News Agency